Ritualized Homosexuality, Male Power and Political Organization in North Vanuatu: A Comparative Analysis


  • Michael Allen


THE   ISLAND of Malekula, in north Vanuatu, has for long been recognized as a locus   classicus for the occurrence of organized male homosexuality. Deacon, who   carried out his field researches in 1926, was the first to publish a   reasonably detailed account (1934:260-69) of the highly institutionalized   variety that occurs among the Big Nambas in the north. But it was Layard, who   had worked at a much earlier period ( 1914-15) on the nearby offshore islands   ofVao and Atchin, who subsequently incorporated Deacon's data into an early   attempt to appreciate the theoretical significance of the practice (Layard   1942:503-22). Though homosexual behaviour as such did not appear to occur in   the Small Islands, Layard noted the presence of dramatized representations on   the part of ancestral spirits in the context of the boys' compulsory   initiation rites.